March 29, 2015
Sometimes I wonder…
which is the greater miracle?
Is it Easter Sunday – the resurrection?
Or is the bigger miracle really Good Friday – the crucifixion?
There’s a phrase I’ve heard a number of African American preachers use…
The phrase is, “Remember..it may be Friday…but Sunday’s coming.”
It may be Friday…but Sunday’s coming!
It may be dark and hopeless, but look for the resurrection,
look for new life,
look for Sunday- wait for it!
Today though, we’re not waiting on Sunday.
We’re pausing on Friday – Good Friday.
Jesus is on the cross.
What is good about Good Friday?
Growing up in New England,
I spent a lot of time explaining to friends
how Protestants were different from Roman Catholics
(which was of ‘the norm’ among my classmates).
One of the differences that was ingrained in me early on is that
Protestants have empty crosses
and Roman Catholics have crucifixes – Jesus on the cross.
The rationale I’d heard is that we Protestants were Easter people…
our faith was in the empty cross, the risen Christ…
And I was good with that…
until my parents moved and their new very-Protestant Lutheran church
had a great big crucifix in front…
I’ve thought about that quite a bit since then…
Are we really simply Easter people?
Is Good Friday something we just need to soldier through before we get to Easter Sunday?
Is the resurrection really the most important part of our story of faith?
Is the resurrection the only miracle of Holy Week?
The apostle Paul would seem to say
that the crucifixion – Christ still on the cross –
is a miracle too – and maybe even a greater one.
Paul claims “we preach Christ crucified!”?
(Notice that he doesn’t say “we preach Christ risen!”)
Paul promises that “whenever we eat this bread and drink this cup, we proclaim the Lord’s death until he comes!”
When we baptize Campbell this morning, she will be baptized into “Christ’s death.”
The resurrection is not the only miracle of Holy Week.
Good Friday is good because the cross is a sign for us
about how God chooses to be revealed..
And it’s a promise about how God continues to be present in the world.
God overcomes suffering and death
not by looking on from afar, but entering into it.
The women following Jesus in our gospel text watched from a distance.
The men fell asleep and then ran away.
God does not watch suffering from a distance.
God does not fall asleep or run away.
The good news of Good Friday is that God gets right down into it.
He chooses to be on the cross.
To paraphrase Tom Joad from Grapes of Wrath…
the sign of the cross tells us that:
Wherever there’s a plane that goes down,
the people on that plane are not alone, God is there.
The cross says that wherever there is racism or discrimination,
whether it is in Indiana or Oklahama or Virginia, God is there.
The cross says that wherever there is a prison cell, a hospital room, a refugee camp, a detention center,
God is there.
Wherever there is loneliness, illness, unfaithfulness, or hurtfulness,
God is there too.
We proclaim Christ crucified.
We proclaim that God is on the cross.
Sunday may be coming,
but Friday is here.
The good news about good Friday,
is that God is here – now.